Clemson University to build cellulosic pilot plant

By Susanne Retka Schill
Web exclusive posted Oct. 17, 2008 at 10:41 a.m. CST

The U.S. DOE has awarded a grant to Clemson University in South Carolina to build a pilot-scale facility to research switchgrass, sweet sorghum, trees and other ethanol feedstocks. Clemson will lead the $1.2 million bioethanol research project being conducted by the newly formed South Carolina Bioenergy Research Collaborative. In addition to Clemson, the collaboration includes scientists from the DOE Savannah River National Laboratory, South Carolina State University, the S.C. Bio industry incubator and other industrial partners.

The pilot plant, which will be built at Clemson University's Restoration Institute in North Charleston, S.C., is designed to scale-up new biofuel technologies and assist energy producers interested in energy-crop bases in the Southeast to build regional ethanol production facilities.

A group of Clemson and USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, led by agronomist Jim Frederick, is investigating switchgrass production systems at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence, S.C. Third-year switchgrass trials at the center had yields of about 6 tons per acre in 2007 without fertilizer or irrigation.

For more information on Clemson's switchgrass project, visit their Web site,